Monday, May 13, 2013

10 Things and Many More

I have been blessed with 2 people who are my absolute best friends. One is the man I fell in love with many years ago, the one I pledged my life to, the one I am building a family with. My husband and I are one. He is my best friend. I chose him. (Though I do believe he was chosen first by God for me.)

The other, I did not choose at all.

Or rather, I did not choose to be born into her family. I did not not choose to be raised in her home. I did not choose to be her daughter. But I was blessed to be.

My mother is my best friend.

I am sitting here, trying to put my thoughts into words. The ideas have been swirling around in my head for days, yet they are getting lost on the way to my fingers. I can't help but to sit here as my eyes fill with tears and my vision blurs.

My mom.

My wonderful, loving mom.

It would be so much easier to let you look into my heart and see for yourself just how amazing she is. But that's not really possible, is it.

So I'll just have to give you a little glimpse, though I know I won't do her justice.

Here are 10 things I've learned from my mom. Some I learned as a child; others as a mother myself.

1. To Be Supportive - My mom has always been my biggest supporter. When I was young, I was a Girl Scout. She helped me with any projects I needed to do to earn my badges. She volunteered when we needed parent helpers. She helped me sell, organize, and deliver 500-600 of boxes of cookies each year. She watched my volleyball games for 5 years. She attended the games when I was a cheerleader for 6 years. She helped me with school projects. She printed and helped me cut tiny strips of paper full of desciptions when I needed to make display boards and wanted them to look professional. She attended every piano recital, watched each concert and play from elementary through college, listened to me practice, practice, practice. Now, she comes to my kids' soccer games, watches their performances, cheers them on. There are times when she has other plans, but ignores them to show us her love. When I have faltered, she's helped me up. When I've questioned my decisions, she's strengthened my resolve. When I have gotten overwhelmed, she's encouraged me. She has supported me in every way possible.

2. To Be Committed - I played basketball in 8th grade. By the second week I'm sure, I wanted to quit. I can vividly remember a game in which I was dribbling down the court and a fan from the opposing team yelled to me to shoot the ball. And I did. I wasn't even to the 3-point line yet. And it wasn't pretty. He and his friends thought it was funny; I was thoroughly was embarrassed. I missed the majority of the shots I took that year. While I've always been fairly athletic, basketball is not my thing. I've admitted before that I do not like doing things I'm not good at. My perfectionist personality does not like failing. And though I get that trait from my mom, her desire to keep commitments is even stronger than her desire to do things perfectly. I wanted to quit. She wouldn't let me. "You made a commitment," she said. I had to finish the season. As a 14-year-old girl, I thought it was awful that she made me continue when she knew how much I hated playing! As an adult, I'm thankful she's always taught me that if I give my word and make a commitment, that I need to follow through. 

3. Rules Are Rules - I have heard my mom say many times that "rules are rules." It doesn't matter who you are, you are expected to follow the same guidelines as everyone else. There are no exceptions because you're someone special. It didn't matter that my mom worked in the school I attended; I had to follow the same rules as everyone else. She taught the computer classes for many years. They were some of the easiest classes for anyone to take. She said exactly what was going to be on the quizzes and then used those quizzes as written to make the tests. My classmates commented that I was getting 100% consistently because my mom was the teacher and she was showing me the tests. She sternly informed them that it didn't matter that I was her daughter; if I were caught cheating I would get a zero, just like anyone else. Rules are rules. Even when you don't want to obey, rules are rules. Even when you think it doesn't apply to you, rules are rules. Even when it's hard, rules are rules. Rules are rules.

4. How to Clean -  As a child, I can remember our house always being just about perfect. Everything was in order. Everything was clean. Everything was uncluttered. My mom kept the house "perfect." One of my chores as I grew older was to clean the bathroom. I hated it. The floor was tiny little tiles that collected hairspray in the grout and was a pain to clean. I'm pretty sure my mom had to tell me every week to do it because I did not take the initiative to do it on my own. Many times after I finished, she'd send me back in there to do it right. I thought it was awful to have to re-do the portions that didn't meet her standards. I learned though (probably after getting a house of my own) that she was teaching my how to keep a home. She didn't make me clean the bathroom because she just didn't feel like doing it herself or because she wanted to punish me because she knew how much I despised those tiles. She was teaching me valuable life skills that I would need the rest of my life. And I (and my family!) am grateful.

5. To Be Faithful - My parents started attending church on Sunday mornings when I was very young. As I grew older and my mom grew closer to God, she and I started going on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights, too. I've watched her go to church for 20 years, by herself. I know it's not easy. It's not easy to go back on Sunday night after a busy morning while your husband stays home. It's not easy to head to church on Wednesday night by yourself after not seeing him all day. Every now and then, Leighton works late and I have to take the kids by myself. It's hard. I do not like being without him. My mother has known no other way. Yet, she's always been faithful. She's taught me that you serve God when it's not easy. You serve Him when your flesh doesn't want to. You serve God even if you do it alone. You always remain faithful.

6. How to Cook -It's no secret that I love being in the kitchen. Many women do not know how to cook before getting married and their husbands lovingly endure the process while they learn. My mom made sure that was not the case for us. My parents cook together often now that my dad works only 3 days a week, but while I was growing up, my mom did all the cooking. I have fond memories of her stirring spaghetti sauce, sautéing mushrooms for beef stroganoff, and mixing together meatloaf. I loved helping her make chocolate chip cookies - always a double batch - and sneaking tastes while she wasn't looking. I have many of the recipes from my childhood in my collection now. I don't ever remember her ruining dinner or making something I didn't like (except for rabbit and we still talk about that, ha.) It's fun cooking and baking together (like this past Christmas when we made 12 different kinds of goodies.) Now, I enjoy teaching my little ones. I have no doubt that all of my children will be good cooks one day. Do you remember when they made a from-scratch cake by themselves, creating the recipe and everything? I'm so thankful my mom took the time to teach me to cook.   

7. To Follow God's Will -  My mom was a full-time homemaker when I was a child. She eventually volunteered her time to teach a woodworking class twice a week at our private school when I was in elementary. After teaching it for 4 years, she switched to teaching computer classes there instead. God flooded her with a wealth of computer knowledge in a short amount of time and opened a door for a position in a computer store. She worked as the purchasing agent for the store for exactly 27 months (divine approval) before she felt the call of God to work full-time at our church and school where I attended high school. It was evident that God sent her to the computer store so she could learn valuable skills that she would need for her position at the church and to help many people with their personal computers. I remember her talking about how God used each situation to fulfill His purpose in her life. She was sensitive and obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. My mom never worked at the church to make money. She did it for many years because it was God's will for her. 

8. To Show Discernment - My parents never argued in front of me. My mom never undermined my dad's authority. They did not talk about adult issues or situations in my presence. In fact, I learned many things over the last few years about the past. I've told my mom "I never knew that!" and she's replied, "Of course not; you were a kid." She made sure to show discernment of things they allowed me to see and hear. Because they never discussed their disagreements when I was listening, I knew that dad and mom were one and unified. There was no playing one against the other. If dad said no, mom said no, too. They worked together for my best interest. They protected me from issues that did not involve me and that I had no business being a part of. Not only did she show discernment in what she allowed me to see from them, she was careful of what I saw on the television as well. There were many shows and movies I could not watch. If I could not say the words or go to the places or mimic the actions, I could not watch them either. This post on the eternal describes this in more detail. To me, this lesson on discernment is one of the most important of all.

9. How to Give - My mom and dad are givers. They give of their time, their money, themselves. They have helped us countless times and want nothing in return. They've let us borrow money when we struggled financially. They watched our 3 kids for nearly 2 weeks when we were back and forth in the hospital with Tyler. They bless us continually. But what's more impressive is that they are like that with others as well. I could tell you story after story of times my parents gave to others, times when they openly blessed someone, and times when they paid a bill discreetly and the receiver of the blessing never knew who to thank. They don't live this way for recognition; this is who they are. Givers. 

10. To Love Unconditionally - I know there were times I let my mom down, times when I disappointed her. There were choices that I made that broke her heart. Yet, she loved me. Really, truly, wholly loved me. She cried when I cried, even when my tears came because I didn't heed her counsel. She blessed me, even when I didn't deserve it. She spoiled me, but wouldn't let me become a brat. She loves me, no matter what. Neither Leighton nor my brother's wife will tell you that she's a "typical mother-in-law." She's Mom. She loves them like her own. It's evident how much she loves her grandchildren too just by watching them. Every time my kids see her at church, or when we go to her house weekly, or when she comes to ours, they have the same reaction: "Gramma! Gramma! Gramma!" and they run into her arms. It makes me smile and brings tears to my eyes to think about how much love is in my life. I am truly, truly blessed.  

My mother has taught me much more than just these 10 examples. I could go on to explain more lessons that I have learned including Mom Knows Best, How to Be a Friend, and To Do My Best, along with countless more. The older I get, the more I learn. When I questioned her ways, she used to tell me "You'll understand when you have kids." That was one of the wisest things she's said. More and more, the applications behind the lessons are evident in my life. I am reminded again of Ezekiel 16:44, “Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.” I am proud to be like my mother. I thank God for giving me to her. And I love her so very much.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! Thank you for diligently teaching me when I was young, for continually teaching me now, and for being my very best friend. I love you.

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  1. I don't know how to put into words what this post means to me. I couldn't have asked for a more loving Mother's Day gift, but you are truly a mother's greatest gift. I love you with all my heart.

    P.S. Where did you find these pictures??

    1. I love you, too. <3 The kids and I looked through boxes of pictures we have to find these. There were lots of giggles. :) I should have looked through the albums at your house though, too.

  2. What a beautiful tribute to your mother! Sniff, sniff!

  3. What a wonderful tribute to your mom!

  4. Once again reading this brought tears to my eyes.

    I have told you many times in the past that you are a better mother than I ever was. You have more patients than I. You have given up all outside activities that would be solely for your enjoyment only, to stay home and home school your children. You have taught your children all of the above accolades and many more.

    You have matured into a Godly woman, wife, and mother that any mother would be proud to call her daughter (and I am). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “I don’t know why God decided to bless us with you for a daughter, but I’m glad He did.”

    I love you with all my heart and I’m so very proud of the women you have become.